Ngugi Vere: The Rose that Grew from Concrete

 

by Nyarie Munodawafa

Tupac left a work of art that was titled ‘The Rose That Grew From Concrete.’ This has become one of my favorite phrases as it truly resonates with my life and where I come from. Growing up from where we came from, we didn’t have many choices to give us hope, we didn’t have much, PERIOD! and the environment just wasn’t conducive to produce winners. At this point of my life I met an amazing person, happy and jovial then regardless of the struggle, we became really good friends and as life has progressed we have maintained our friendship and I must say I have the utmost respect for this dude. Did you hear me when I said we didn’t have much to fall back on? Yeah, I know his story first hand and how he has gone on to become a barrier breaker in his own right! He took down a system that was designed for him to fail. There were no options for us back then but he broke that system and made options for himself, nature said no but he said I will make it happen, I saw his struggle and I saw him break through and YES Ngugi Vere is that ‘rose that grew from concrete’

Ngugi as you all now know him is a fashion guru, he is a stylist, a fashion creative, a creative director and a producer who has rightfully earned his stripes in the fashion industry. He works with a lot of celebrities and prominent people and is a trusted household brand. His creative brain is to die for and the people who work with him live to tell this tale and so do the accolades that he has gained over the past years. Ngugi also has a heart of gold, he is currently running a Pads campaign to help less privileged girls who are in desperate need of sanitary wear, this is his own way of giving back and I applaud him for this.  He is also an amazing uncle to his nieces, his timeline is filled with their adorable photos (it’s the cutest thing ever), he is a great brother and a great friend.

Losing your mother at a young age is nothing I wish on anyone, I went through it and years later I still break down and wail. It’s tough and as a child, the effect this has on your life can literally break you especially if a mother is all you have. This loss had a huge impact on how Ngugi’s life would turn out and I had to get all the information on how this affected him and the turning point in his life. Ngugi gives us an all-access pass into his life to help us understand where his drives comes from, who he is, his past and his future and what it cost for him to become the man that we all know now.

 

Walk me through a Ngugi Vere day. How does it start off, what do u get up to and at what point do you call it a night? Do you have a morning or evening ritual?

Ngugi Vere aka King Vere wakes up at 6 am, pray for the day, hit the gym or exercise indoors then off to my meetings or studio. Sometimes it’s waking up to go fabric shopping or early morning shoots. My day can go from Personal Styling to Personal Shopping to Consultation meetings. Then make sure to get home before 9 pm for prayers and devotions. Of course, late supper while listening to music. I love music, it both soothes my soul and helps me to be creative. Afterward, I work til 2/3 am mostly working on designs or creating concepts.

Tell me about your childhood, what lessons you got from it and some of your happy moments?

As a child, I learnt a lot because I lost a lot of people I loved. I learned mostly to be strong, fight hard for life and trust in God, and not men. The pain and suffering I experienced after my mother passed away when I was just 10 years old made me realize some people are not who they pretend to be. Mostly, I found love in genuine people who had nothing to give me but love.

What do you consider to have been the lowest point in your life and how did you pick yourself up? What conversation did you have with yourself to sail you through?

My lowest point was losing the only person who made sense to my life. Losing someone who loved me more than life itself. Someone who believed in me even when my grades were low and would always look for ways to cheer me up (shopping). She inspired and influenced my love for fashion. She took me shopping every weekend and allowed me to choose clothes for myself. I grew up with my mom, just the two of us and she was so selfish with me. I only knew her and a few family members. My life was drowning and I had given up on life when I lost her. And 2 weeks after I lost her, I lost my 2nd love – my grandmother. I started drinking, smoking, taking drugs etc because I felt there was no point of existing after losing the greatest love. It was only 6 years later that it dawned on me that I was not gonna die anytime soon so I had to fix my life or else I would continue struggling alone. Already, I was suffering because all those who pretended to love me when my mom was alive disappeared. Then, I realised no one owes me anything in life, I have to sort out my life and live the life I had always dreamed of when mom was around. I started going to church, got saved and served in the house of the Lord. From then on I started living a positive life and believing in myself that good things could come out of my loss.

What mantra or mantras do you live by?

God first , Be Bold, Be Yourself.

How does Ngugi Vere choose his friends? And what advice would you give to a younger you concerning the people in your circle?

It is very critical to be in the right circles. Our environments influence how we live, think, talk and act. If those around you don’t inspire you to be great, you will never be great. You need to position yourself with positive and ambitious individuals.

Let’s talk business, how did you get started and why? What do you consider to have been the biggest break for you?

I have always been a business person but was never loud about it. I used to sell clothes in school and in the hood during the school holidays. Oh well, they called it dealing but I saw it as a business because I could make a profit from something I got for next to nothing because I have this ability to convince. And the fact that I used you to dress well made it easy for me to sell anything. My current business started in 2014 when I returned from Asia where I was shooting an International Reality show, Style Wars. I told myself that I would never work for anyone and I’m going to establish my fashion ideas in South Africa, I would keep trying til I made it. My biggest break was when I was handpicked to be part of an International show with top 6 stylists from around the world and I was the only African. I couldn’t believe it because I was jobless, less experienced but I got an opportunity of a lifetime. I knew it was God because people were refusing to work with me or intern me because I wasn’t gay. Apparently, to them, gays are more creative so every time I got turned down, the experience and lessons changed my life, particularly my views and perspective on fashion and styling. When I got back the same people who turned me down were now consulting me. I started working with a lot of celebrities and then my business started.

What is the Ngugi Vere brand all about, how has it set itself apart from all other African products on the market, what values does this brand uphold?

Ngugi Vere | Be Bold is a brand that believes in Africa, African aesthetic and what Africa carries. And we represent the character that Africans need to possess to conquer the world Fashion industries which is being BOLD. We believe only the ‘Bold’ can run this world. So our designs, approach, concepts and stories are all about spreading boldness and uniqueness. We telling an African story that hasn’t been heard.

Over the years what sort of challenges have you faced in setting up your business considering you started out at an early age, What lessons have you gotten from these experiences and what advice would you give to someone who is looking to be an entrepreneur at a young age?

Entrepreneurship has no age factor. It’s all about having a vision, determination, hunger, purpose and discipline. The same challenges you face at a young age are the same ones you will deal with when you’re older. So those should never be your focus. Your focus should be on achieving your vision and goals despite the challenges. If you are not patient and don’t have a strong heart to endure tough times then you are not ready to be an entrepreneur. You must be willing to learn every day.

Being an entrepreneur is not easy because the money does not always roll in, how then do you manage your finances bearing in mind bills and having to save for a rainy day or old age, what structure do you have in place

Entrepreneurship is all about taking risks. High risks equals high rewards. So one should never lay all their eggs in one basket. Have different streams of income so that one can support the other when the other under performs. And the other thing is to have a Savings Account which saves for future events; lobola, weddings, accidents, death etc. It will come in handy when your other streams of income are under-performing. My main structure though is Faith. Handover your business to God, let him be the CEO. When we fail, we fail together and it’s His baby to figure out a way to get us up, survive and strive. And paying tithes is key.

How do you prepare yourself for a meeting?

I pray first and share with God what my meeting is about and what I need to achieve. Then, I start motivating myself lol, telling myself ‘I AM THE BEST’. Then research about the client. Dress nice and put on my favorite cologne then I’m ready.

What do you wish you had done differently when you first got into the business and what does the future hold for the Ngugi Vere brand?

I don’t wish I had done anything differently. I did exactly the way it was supposed to be done. You don’t need to start perfect, you just need to start. I just focus on my future endeavors and opportunities. I look into expanding my brands into the European, Asian and middle East markets, and also expand my products. It is a very exciting future that just needs investments, but yea we trusting God for that.

Do you read? If yes what are your top three favorite books?

Yea, I do read a lot. My top 3 books; the Bible, Man’s Style manual, The Virgin by Richard Branson

You are loud about your faith? Who instilled these values in you and why does it mean so much to you?

My Faith came from when Salvation found me and my life found a new dawn. I have always lived my life through faith because when I asked people for help it was never there but God’s favor and love always showed up. And, I know only He understands me, my dreams and my hustle. He always rescues me in a time of need. So, I also try to inspire others to trust in God.

Your dream destination and who would you take with you?

My dream destination is between Maldives and Monaco. I’d love to take my late mother’s sister but I guess I can’t now. So my woman or my grandma.

If I don’t ask this question the ladies will have me on a platter, what are you looking for in a woman and what are you waiting for?

Kikikkkkkkkki! You just had to ask hey? Oh well, I am against divorce and single parenting so I would rather wait until I find someone who makes sense to me and feel I would never do without, than being in a relationship and realise I made a mistake and break up. The wait is worth the while for me until I’m certain. I just want everything to be perfect. Well, I want a woman with a smart mind, beautiful heart and body, a hustler, good dresser, God fearing, strong faith and above all who supports my hustle and makes me smile and laugh foolishly. In short, I want someone who compliments me; my faith and my hustle.

 

I hope and pray that Ngugi’s inspirational story helps you to understand that you have it within you to break any barrier, no matter what life has thrown at you, you can still rise above it all. If you rely on people and they let you down, keep on going, a door will soon open and you will rise to the top. Don’t give up just yet and keep fighting for your dreams. You too can be that rose that grew from concrete, continue to write your own story despite the obstacles and challenges that are before you.

Ngugi for allowing your story to inspire me and a lot of other people out there I say THANK YOU, go ahead and stand on whatever mountain top and yell, ‘mama you rose made it.’

 

Visit Nyarie’s blog on alhubbnyaree.com

5 grants Zimbos can apply to right now

 

Peace and Security Fellowship for African Women

This Fellowship is an intellectual and financial award to those who are able to portray convincing demonstrable or potential capacity to bring about intellectual, policy or other change in their field. The Fellowship is a postgraduate non-degree programme, and does not lead to an academic qualification.

 

The Fellowships bring together African women in the early stages of their careers to undertake a carefully designed training programme in conflict, security and development. This training is followed by an attachment to an African Regional Organisation or a Centre of Excellence to acquire practical experience in the field of peace and security. It is intended that this project will train African women to develop a better understanding of African peace and security issues, in order to increase their participation in conflict management processes and other areas of security concerns for Africans.

 

Themes: Security, Peacebuilding, Gender

Eligibility: Female Citizens of African countries // must hold a Master’s or Bachelor’s degree with an equivalent level of professional experience (see more on website)

Grant:  an intellectual and financial award

Deadline: Sunday 30th April, 2017

Link: http://applications.africanleadershipcentre.org/programs/fellowship/9/introduction/

 

XminusY

 

XminusY supports social movements, actiongroups and changemakers who are fighting for a fair, democratic, sustainable and tolerant world. Projects that are supported by XminusY can take place on a broad variety of topics. But more important than the topic, is that the people involved take action themselves to change their own society. 

 

Themes: Social Movements, Democracy, Global Change

Eligibility: only supports groups, organizations or social movements that fight for an honest, just and ecologically sound society

Grant:  maximum of 3,000 euros

Deadline:  30th June, 2017

Link: https://www.xminy.nl/english/

 

ICTs For Social Good

 

The general goal of the grant is to sustain, as much as possible, local innovators in low-income countries but also to inform the development sector – too often still based on traditional intervention models – about local innovations.

Themes: ICTs, Social Good, Development

Eligibility:

  1.  to be a Non-profit organisation or social venture/enterprise that is led by a social purpose and tackle social issues.
  2. to be an association, cooperative, NGO, individual enterprise, consortium at least since 6 months.

Grant: The two prizes are of 12.000 euros and 10.000 euros respectively and the winners will also be invited to Italy for the final event of the programme “Innovazione per lo Sviluppo” encouraging meetings with entrepreneurial realities and Italian research centres that might be interested in sustaining and developing the winning projects.

Deadline: 30th April, 2017

Link: http://ictforsocialgood.org/en/

 

The Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship Program

 

The Shuttleworth Foundation offers fellowships to individuals to implement their innovative idea for social change. We are most interested in exceptional ideas at the intersection between technology, knowledge and learning, with openness being the key requirement.

Themes: Technology, Innovation, Social Good, Information

Eligibility: Applications are invited from people from all over the world regardless of gender, age, nationality or experiences.

Grant: up to $250,000 is set aside per Fellow per year as potential project funding. This funding is unlocked through a light weight project pitch process and the Foundation tops up the Fellow’s own investment by adding at least 10 times as much funding from their project funding pool.

Deadline: 14th May

Link: https://www.shuttleworthfoundation.org/apply/

The Hurford Youth Fellows Program

 

The Hurford Youth Fellowship Program, facilitated by the World Movement for Democracy, seeks emerging democratic leaders from around the world who are committed to building their leadership skills, enhancing their organizational talents, and harnessing their potential. Through the Hurford program, two young activists will spend four months at the World Movement’s Secretariat office in Washington, D.C., where they will expand their global network, learn lessons from activists involved in democracy movements around the world, and contribute to the development of the World Movement for Democracy and the World Youth Movement for Democracy.

Themes: Leadership, democracy, activism

Eligibility: Youth leaders up to the age of 30

Grant: A monthly cost of living stipend and roundtrip airfare to Washington DC will be provided by the Program.

Deadline: 17th April

Link: http://www.ned.org/fellowships/hurford-youth-fellows-program/

 

Create your own jobs …but vote for me in 2018

 

By Kalabash Contributor 

In the papers today, our very own President Mugabe has called upon the masses to create their own jobs which is a change of heart following the 2.2 million jobs that were promised in his campaign for 2013 elections.

Zimbabwe is on the eve of another election year, those promised jobs still haven’t been created.
For once honesty and accepting failure may be a good start, over being politically correct at the cost of the people.

Mugabe is quoted in the Newsday saying, “We want people to create jobs for themselves and not wait to be given work. Create jobs and employ others, we do not want people to just cry for jobs. Let’s have less tears and more sweat. ”

The people have been sweating Mr. President, overworked and underpaid is a statement that sums up the lives of the ordinary Zimbabweans. The informal sector has thrived but the government hasn’t done much to make sure it reaches its full potential.

It is the duty of the government to create jobs and an atmosphere that makes it easy for people to start up their own initiatives without a lot of hustle. As it is registering a company is a mission, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) will not spare you. There is no access to loans, neither is it easy to rope in a foreign investor. Heck, the government hasn’t done much to change the perception of investors on Zimbabwe.

Economically strained Zimbabweans that decide to the still earn an honest living despite the circumstances will have his/her government working against them. It’s not a secret the job creation pitch contributed to the Zanu Pf’s “landslide victory” in 2013 and the Zanu Pf government has dismally failed serve for a few propaganda pieces that have thousands and some millions of jobs, along with the major deals that have materialized into nothing.

The unemployment rate is estimated at over 80 percent and companies are still closing shop. So many promises have been broken, one can only wonder what more promises will be made in the coming elections.  Slogans like “upfumi kuvanhu” (wealth to the people) will not work, maybe a repeat of “Bhora Mughedi” (Ball in the goal post), a campaign that nearly cost them a win will work as politics is just that to Zanu Pf, a Game!

Win $20 000 in the ‘Bots for Messenger Challenge’

 

by Munya Bloggo

For many years Facebook has been promoting innovation across the Middle East and Africa, providing startups with the tools they need to build, grow, monetize, and measure. Facebook grew out of a hacker culture and thrives on seeking out and promoting innovation on new platforms. That’s why they are launching the Bots for Messenger Challenge, a contest to recognize and reward developers who are able to create the most innovative new bots across the Middle East and Africa. Moto Republik will partner with Facebook for one of the last hackathons for the “Bots For Messenger Challenge” which will focus on Social Good, with winners standing a chance to win USD $20 000.

 

What is social good?

Social Good is an action that provides some sort of benefit to the general public in the greatest possible way.

The Moto Republik Messenger Bots Hackathon For Social Good will be a full day on Saturday 22 April 2017 bringing together Zimbabwe’s emerging civic hackers, programmers, designers, data experts, civic organizers, social entrepreneurs and public sector practitioners who will converge to build Messenger bots that solve various social problems in Zimbabwe. Teams of up to 3 people are invited to participate in hackathon.

Some important rules to note:

  1. Bots must be created, and will be verified, between February 15, 2017 to April 28, 2017. Bots created before February 15, 2017 will not be eligible to participate.
  2. Bots must comply with all Facebook for developers Messenger Platform developer guidelines and rules, and use the Messenger Platform API.
  3. Bots must be created on the Facebook Messenger Platform (but entrant may use any third-party tool to create or add functionality). Bots on any other platform will not be accepted.
  4. Bots must be created by people in the Entrant’s home region of either (i) the Middle East and North Africa or (ii) Sub-Saharan Africa.
  5. Bots may be in any language (or combination of languages). Only the Bot Submission must be entirely in English.
  6. It is optional to submit a link to an online video of the bot, but if you do, the video must be under 2 minutes long.
  7. Bots can be submitted by an individual, a team of up to 3 people, or as an organization.

Judging Criteria:

  • Technical Quality – How well does the Bot use the Messenger platform features? [35%]
  • Non-Technical Quality – What is the degree of excellence of the Bot, taking into account the Bot’s distinctive attributes and characteristics (except for the technical aspects)? [35%]   
  • User Experience – How useable is the Bot for the intended audience, including how well the conversation flows? [30%]  

Teams & individuals are required to register to participate in the Moto Republik edition of the hackathon via the Eventbrite Page. 

For More information visit https://messengerchallenge.splashthat.com

 

Contact:

 

Munyaradzi Dodo

munya@magambanetwork.com

Cellphone: +263779604727

In the midst of political confusion

 

by  Linda Tsungirirai Masarira 
In the midst of the political confusion that has gripped our country, many people are wondering if we have come to the end of Zimbabwe.
The answer is simple: the thing called an “end” does not exist, not in relation to a country. Zimbabwe will be there long after Mugabe is gone.
What Mugabe has done is to make us come to the realization that ours is colonization by our own fellow brothers. From the frying pan into the fire.
Towards the end of March, innocent Zimbabwean citizens were illegally evicted from Arnold farm in Mazowe. ZRP acting on the first lady Grace Mugabe’s instructions defied a high court ruling against the evictions at Arnold farm. Houses were demolished and the little property they had was ferried off the farm by police vehicles and they were dumped on the roadside of river farm.

These displaced families are surviving on wild fruits and sleeping in the open for nearly two weeks now. I am trying to understand why a mother and a woman would do that to other women and children? Principalities in Africa manifest in strange ways. This is an abhorrent violation of human rights.

We must all thank Mugabe for revealing our true African character; that the idea of rule of law is not part of who we are, and that constitutionalism is a concept far ahead of us as a people.
How else are we to explain the thousands of people who flock to stadiums to clap hands for a president who has violated their country’s constitution? Such people have no idea of constitutionalism.
Now that we have reclaimed our place as another African country, we must reflect on and come to terms with our real character, and imagine what our future portends.
In a typical African country, ordinary people don’t expect much of politicians, because people get tired of repeated empty promises.
In a typical African country, people have no illusions about the unity of morality and governance. People know that those who have power have it for themselves and their friends and families.
The idea that the state is an instrument for people’s development is a Western concept and has been copied by pockets of Asian countries. Africans and their leaders don’t like to copy from the West. They are happy to remain African, and do things “the African way”.
The African way is rule by kings, chiefs and indunas in a setting of unwritten rules. Is there anyone who has seen a book of African customary laws? The idea that a commoner can raise questions about public money spent on the residence of a king is not African.
Asking a ruler to be accountable is a foreign – Western – idea. In a situation where there is a conflict between a ruler and laws, Africans simply change the laws to protect the ruler. This is why no single white person has called for King Dalindyebo to be released from jail.
The problem with clever blacks is that they think they live in Europe, where ideas of democracy have been refined over centuries. What we need to do is to come back to reality, and accept that ours is a typical African country. Such a return to reality will give us a fairly good idea of what Zimbabwe’s future might look like.
This country will not look like Denmark. It might look like Nigeria, where anti-corruption crusaders are an oddity.
Being an African country, ours will not look like Germany. Zimbabwe looks like Kenya, where tribalism drives politics.
People must not entertain the illusion that a day is coming when Zimbabwe will look like the US.  What will become of our future when one ruler is more powerful than the rest of the population. Even if someone else were to become president, it would still be the same, if we do not change our mindsets.
The idea that a president can resign simply because a court of law has delivered an adverse judgment is Western. Only the Prime Minister of Iceland does that; African rulers will never do that. The idea of an African president resigning because he is too ill to rule is for Doug Ferguson former president of Canada.
Analyzed carefully, the notion of Zimbabwe coming to an “end” is an expression of a Western value system – of accountability, political morality, reason, and so on.
Linda Tsungirirai Masarira is the Founder  & National Coordinator of ZWIPA
Featured courtesy of Newsday